Air pollution ‘major cause of death’ in all London boroughs

Top death categories for each borough listed for first time showing air pollution is one of major causes, campaign group claims

The top ten categories of deaths in London boroughs have been listed for the first time, with campaign group Clean Air in London (CAL) claiming air pollution is a major cause in a majority of these categories.

The campaign group commissioned the Office for National Statistics to rank the top 10 death categories for every borough in London for each of the last 12 years.

Clean Air in London claims air pollution is a major cause of premature deaths in the capital

Clean Air in London claims air pollution is a major cause of premature deaths in the capital

And, CAL claims that air pollution is a major cause in all the top four male death categories and four of the top five female death categories in the capital.

Exposure categories (such as air pollution, alcohol, obesity and smoking) cause health impacts (incuding hardening and thickening of arteries) which can lead to outcomes in the death categories (such as heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer). However, the ONS has provided outcome data only.

The top five male death categories in London in 2012 — the most recent set of data — were: 1) ischaemic heart diseases;  2) malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung; 3) chronic lower respiratory diseases; 4) cerebrovascular diseases; and 5) dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

For females in the capital, the top five death categories in 2012 were: 1) ischaemic heart diseases; 2) dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; 3) cerebrovascular diseases; 4) malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung; and 5) chronic lower respiratory diseases.

According to CAL, Londoners are on average half as likely to die of ischaemic heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases now as they were 12 years ago, but twice as likely to die early from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the last two years.

Clean Air in London

Simon Birkett, founder and director of CAL, commented: “The huge variation in death rates for different death categories across boroughs may raise serious questions about inequalities and the competence and culpability of London authorities. Politicians and officials must stop saying behind closed doors they don’t want to frighten the public about air pollution and do something to warn and protect people and reduce air pollution quickly.”

He added that he believed, in public health terms, that air pollution is “where smoking was 10 years’ ago in terms of the scale and certainty of the risks and the lack of public understanding of them”.

Mr Birkett said: “It is astonishing the government has never published this information.  It is even more astonishing the Mayor does not even hold this information.

“Clean Air in London encourages Londoners, health and wellbeing boards, local authorities, clinical commissioning groups, the London Health Commission and others to consider the data and adjust their priorities accordingly. Clean Air in London thanks the ONS for providing this valuable data.”


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Jill Austen
Jill Austen
10 years ago

The effects of air pollution on those who, by the nature of their occupation, are exposed more than the rest of us in London should be highlighted more vociferously by the unions than they current do – especially in the case of bus drivers in the capital – information that has been available since 1956. Come on RMT show us your teeth!

juliana mann
juliana mann
10 years ago

I have some questions.

What is the danger exactly? Is it sitting in traffic jams, living next to busy roads, orking by busy roads?
How can we protect ourselves. This is London! Can we test the amount of pollution we are subjected to? The Mayor and his children are subjected to the same amount of pollution as we are. Is he not aware and what plans have been offered to him?

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